The Department for Transport (DfT) has set out how £50 million of funding will be spent on repairing almost one million potholes across the country over the next year.
More than 100 councils in England will receive funding to help remove around 943,000 potholes from local roads during this financial year. The funding has been made available as part of the £250m Pothole Action Fund included in last month’s Budget, which will fix over four million potholes by 2020/21.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I know how important well-maintained roads are to people across the country. Almost every journey starts and ends on a local road, so the government is giving councils £250 million specifically to tackle the blight of potholes in their area.
“This is just one part of our unprecedented investment in local road maintenance over the next five years. We are giving a record £6 billion to local authorities in England that will improve journeys across the regions.”
In total, the government is spending a record £6.1 billion on local highways maintenance between 2015/16 and 2020/21.
As part of this investment, the Pothole Action Fund will give local authorities in England £50m a year, over the next five years, to help them tackle more than four million potholes. Funding is calculated according to the size of the local road network in the area.
You can see a breakdown of how funding is being allocated on a regional basis here.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “While any cash to fix potholes is welcome, we will not get on top of the problem until there is a recognition that potholes arise because of a lack of preventative maintenance. Until we start talking about how many potholes we have prevented rather than how many we have filled, we are doomed to a local road network that is the weak link in the transport infrastructure.
“It’s time for the government to recognise that local roads are a vital part of the transport infrastructure which should be brought into the scope of the Infrastructure Commission so that they are rightly treated as a long-term strategic asset.
“While the government’s Road Investment Strategy is ensuring the future ‘fitness-for-purpose’ of the strategic road network in England there is a very real danger that local roads will suffer ongoing decline through insufficient investment and no long-term strategy to improve them. What use would it be having excellent motorways, major roads, railways, ports and airports if, when getting to or from them, you are faced with pothole-ridden, crumbling local roads where, of course, all journeys start and finish.”
Cllr Martin Tett, Local Government Association transport spokesman, said: “While £50 million is a step in the right direction, councils need more than 230 times that amount to cover the £11.8 billion cost to bring our roads up to scratch. The money announced today will help those councils receiving it to tackle potholes, but it would not even completely cover the cost of the £69 million faced by the average authority to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.
“Councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our roads. Local authorities are proving remarkably efficient in how they use this diminishing funding pot but they remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up those roads that are inadequate.
“Councils share the frustration of motorists having to pay to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling shows that 83 per cent of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.
“The condition of our roads is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The government’s own traffic projections predict a potential increase in traffic of up to 55% by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.”
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: “The government’s announcement of a £50 million Pothole Action Fund for England in 2016/17 might seem like good news but is, in fact, another clear sign that the battle to rescue our crumbling local roads network is being lost.
“It does nothing to address the cumulative effect of decades of underfunding and perpetuates the downward spiral of the ‘patch and mend’ approach. The most efficient way to deal with the problem of our failing roads is to fix them properly and stop potholes forming in the first place.
“Poorly maintained roads simply cannot withstand the combination of severe weather and increased traffic, which is why potholes form, and which will, in time, undermine the entire structure of the road. Our research has shown that an invest-to-save approach pays dividends with every planned investment providing long-term savings of more than twice the amount spent. Throwing money into potholes is complete madness.”